Jordan’s King Abdullah said Syria’s war could ignite a regional sectarian conflict unless global powers help to convene peace talks soon, a pan-Arab newspaper reported yesterday.
King Abdullah also said Palestinians could launch an Arab Spring-style revolt if they felt prospects for a peaceful settlement of their conflict with Israel had reached a dead end, the London-based Asharq al-Awsat newspaper said.
Situated near Syria, and next door to Israel and the occupied West Bank, US-allied Jordan is affected by instability in the region. Jordan has taken in more than 500,000 Syrians out of a total 1.5 million who have fled the war, UN officials say.
“It has become clear to all that the Syrian crisis may extend from being a civil war to a regional and sectarian conflict … the extent of which is unknown,” King Abdullah said in an interview. “It is time for a more serious Arab and international coordination to stop the deterioration of the Syrian crisis. The situation cannot wait any longer.”
King Abdullah said that efforts to convene a peace conference bringing together the Syrian government and the opposition remained “the logical and ideal way” to find a peaceful solution to the crisis.
Talks between the US and Russia in Geneva, Switzerland, on Tuesday to set up such a conference produced no agreement, with the powers on either side of the conflict failing to agree when it should be held or who would be invited.
King Abdullah also welcomed efforts by US Secretary of State John Kerry to revive Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, but warned of a narrowing window for peace due to Israeli settlement building.
“Fading prospects of peace will explode relations between Palestinians and Israelis in a manner emulating the Arab Spring protests, either through a new intifada [uprising], or a new cycle of violence and counter violence,” he said.
Meanwhile, Syria lashed out at Saudi Arabia, accusing the Gulf kingdom of backing “terrorists” after Riyadh condemned Damascus for enlisting fighters from its Lebanese ally in its struggle against rebels.
Damascus has previously blamed the Sunni Gulf states, who along with the US and its European allies back the Syrian opposition, for the civil war that has claimed more than 93,000 lives.
The latest remarks by Syrian Information Minister Omran al-Zoubi were carried late on Tuesday by state news agency SANA. They come after Saudi Foreign Minister Prince Saud al-Faisal met with Kerry in Jiddah and condemned Syrian President Bashar al-Assad for bolstering his army with fighters from Lebanon’s Iran-backed Hezbollah group.
Prince Saud charged that Syria faces “genocide” and “foreign invasion.”
His comments were carried by SANA late on Tuesday.
Al-Zoubi fired back, saying Riyadh is responsible for his country’s conflict because it is providing weapons and money to “terrorists,” the government’s term for the rebels.
He said Saudi diplomats have blood on their hands and are “trembling in fear of the victories of the Syrian army.”
The Syrian military, with Hezbollah’s help, captured the central town of Qusair earlier this month and says it is building on the victory to attack rebel-held areas elsewhere.
The Syrian conflict began as peaceful protests against al-Assad’s rule, but it gradually became an armed conflict after the al-Assad regime used the army to crackdown on dissent and some opposition supporters took up weapons to fight government troops.